Copa America 2019: Paraguay left shell-shocked as Qatar fight back to earn a point
Paraguay were left shocked after they let a two-goal lead slip vs Qatar during an entertaining evening in the Maracanã. Paraguay got off to a flying start when they were awarded a penalty after a handball by Pedro Miguel. Oscar Cardozo stepped up, blasting the ball past the hapless Qatari goalkeeper.
Ali Almoez had a great chance to put Qatar level but he squandered his chance wide of the goal. Then late into the first half, Paraguay had two promising chances to pull two goals clear of their opponents.
The first chance coming from West Ham Centre half Fabián Balbuena was headed narrowly wide. Hernán Perez thought he had added a goal but a fantastic save from Qatar shot-stopper Al Sheeb meant Paraguay went into the break one goal to the good.
Early into the second half, Miguel Almiron’s superb cross was met by Cardozo who smashed the ball home, only for VAR to step in and rule the goal out for offside.
Just moments later Paraguay did finally take a two-goal lead after some more magic by Almiron as he found Derlis Gonzáles, who hit a scorching long-range shot into the right side of the goal, leaving the keeper stunned.
But the second goal, rather than boosting Paraguay’s confidence, gave Qatar a kick. The Asian side pulled a goal back through Ali Almoez, who hit a cracking curling shot into the top corner of the net.
Just nine minutes later Qatar were level after a pass from Akram Afif found Boualem Khoukhi, who hit a scrappy shot which hit the keeper and eventually looped into the net. Qatar will feel hard done by after Afif went down in the box late on but the referee and the VAR officials didn’t deem it enough to be a foul - meaning both sides had to settle for a point.
Paraguay will be left wondering how they were unable to see out a two-goal lead after being so comfortable in the match. Eduardo Berizzo will have to pick his players up for the next match and hope to forget this result, which could come back to haunt them at the end of the group stage.
Qatar, on the other hand, will see this as a point gained rather than two points lost. That will give them the confidence that they can perform well going ahead in the tournament.
Paraguay next face Argentina on Wednesday. Elsewhere, Qatar will take on Colombia on the same day in the early kick-off.